World-class Writers Gathered in NYC for an Evening of Literature and Laughter

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New York City literati shine bright at the Southampton Writers Conference fundraiser.

A literary who’s who gathered at The French Institute Alliance Francaise in Manhattan last Wednesday for the fourth annual Southampton Writers Conference fundraiser.

Melissa Bank, Meg Wolitzer, Roger Rosenblatt, Jules Feiffer, Christopher Durang, Matt Klam and David Rakoff, read from their works, providing the audience with a preview of the July 20-31, 2005 summer Conference, where writers, poets, playwrights and literary enthusiasts from across the globe will gather for a week of creative inspiration and lively discussion. The Southampton Writers Conference has become a literary Mecca on Long Island’s East End, drawing the finest writers to share their insights and teach their craft.

Proceeds from the event will provide scholarship funds for the 30th annual Southampton Writers Conference, which attracts students from across the country and around the world. Those accepted for the Conference attend a series of workshops and lectures with some of the country’s most gifted writers and teachers.

Critically-acclaimed novelist and Director of the Conference and Southampton College MFA program Robert Reeves unveiled the new poster for the Southampton Writers Conference, comprised of original artwork which an eminent cartoonist designs each year. Following in the footsteps of Jules Feiffer, Garry Trudeau and Edward Koren, "New Yorker" cartoonist Roz Chast has illustrated the 2005 edition, a lively burst of color and merriment indicative of the Conference’s underlying essence.

The readers who appeared at the April 6 event will teach at the Writers Conference, providing instruction across a variety of genres including poetry, the novel, the short story, the play, the memoir and the essay. Each brings an astonishing array of credentials, artistic accomplishment, and life experience to the classroom:

Melissa Bank is the winner of the Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction, and is the author of the best-selling "The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing."

Meg Wolitzer is the author of six novels including "The Wife," "Surrender," "Dorothy," and "This is Your Life." Her short fiction has appeared in "Best American Short Stories" and has won the Pushcart Prize. She contributes regularly to WNYC’s "The Next Big Thing."

Roger Rosenblatt, an Emmy, Peabody and George Polk Award winner and Long Island University’s Parsons Family University Professor of Writing, is best known for his provocative contributions to “Time” magazine and PBS’ "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer."

Jules Feiffer, one of American's most influential editorial cartoonists, is also a playwright, novelist, screenwriter and author of children's books. He was presented an Obie Award for his book "Little Murders" and won an Oscar for his anti-military short subject animation, "Munro."

Christopher Durang's plays “The Nature and Purpose of the Universe”, “Titanic”, “A History of the American Film”, “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You”, “Beyond Therapy” and “Baby With the Bathwater”, among others have appeared on and off Broadway. He has received numerous honors, including an Obie Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Tony nomination.

Matthew Klam, was named one of the 20 best young writers by The New Yorker in 1999, and won the O. Henry Award for his first book, "Sam the Cat and Other Stories." He is a recipient of a Robert Bingham/PEN Award, a National Endowment of the Arts and a Whiting Writer's Award.

David Rakoff is the author of the essay collections "Fraud" (Doubleday 2001) and the forthcoming "Don't Get Too Comfortable" (Doubleday 2005). He is a regular contributor to Public Radio International's "This American Life" and "Outside Magazine," "GQ," "The New York Times Magazine," "Wired," "Salon," "Slate," and "The New York Observer."

The 2005 Writers Conference will also feature Billy Collins, Frank McCourt, Peter Matthiessen, Susan Kinsolving, Bharati Mukherjee, and Clark Blaise. Special guests at the Southampton Writers Conference in the past have included Mel Brooks, Tom Wolfe, Joyce Carol Oates, Bruce Jay Friedman, Amy Tan, Alan Alda, Mercedes Ruehl, and Dianne Wiest.

For information about the Southampton Writers Conference, call 631-287-8175, or email rnr(at)

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Deborah Siegel
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